Return to the sideshow

Nothing would grow in that loamy, black soil. It appeared to be the most fertile mix on the planet, but not even the fiercest weeds would set root in it. Mysteriously, the black stuff had also started spreading and was steadily eating acreage on that high-altitude horse ranch.

Just as the ranch's owner had written it off as "some kinda fungus," Carol, a middle-aged artist boarding her horse on the property, offered another solution. Standing only 5 feet from the ground and topped with a mane of red hair, she was known for her small stature and bold disposition. And that day she eagerly revealed the true black dirt culprits to my wife and me.

"It's the Arkadians, you know," she proclaimed.

"Arkadians?" we asked.

"Extra-terrestrials," she said confidently. "Not little green men of course. Arkadians are more like humans, but with grayer skin. Their ships have been landing in the field and transforming the soil. Pretty amazing stuff."

Carol then added even more side-spin to the story, saying matter of factly, "Shane told me. They started visiting a couple months ago, and that's when Shane first met them. Nothing to worry about. Totally peaceful. Just getting the lay of the land, so to speak."

Carol had rescued Shane off the race track nearly 20 years earlier. The two had developed an undeniably strong bond. And yes, Shane was a horse.

Anywhere else, a little shock therapy and a few weeks in the white room may have been prescribed. But the story did little to faze us. After all, it had only been a few days since I'd stumbled upon Carol as she pulled an "energy knot" out of my wife's neck, tossing the invisible mass into the air and muttering an incantation. A candidate for psychoanalysis elsewhere in the world, Carol was a local hero in our neck of the woods. As we all know, there's something unique about Southwest Colorado and its inhabitants. I've been falling in love with their trickster energy since I started growing up in this corner of the world. Those people and places with a little wildness in their eyes always seemed to have the best stories to tell.

Maybe it's the ruggedness of the peaks, the barren nature of the desert or the combination of the two, but our section of the state has always attracted color. Geography and altitude have created a virtual frontier here, and people like Carol are always more comfortable on the edge. Other examples of the phenomenon abound.

I fondly remember one member of a community who single-handedly worked to dismantle the American legal structure. Acting as his own counsel, the man tirelessly fought the charge that he was caught driving without a driver's license. His defense: The higher order does not require spiritual beings to carry such licensure.

On the subject of legal structure, there was the hippie attorney who spent his career fiercely defending the little guy. As a result, he frequently took payment in the form of beet juice and baggies filled with custom-rolled joints. When 1960s icon Norman Mailer visited the Four Corners area, it was this attorney and his beautiful bride who met Mailer at the airport. They then escorted the prized writer around our little edge of the universe.

There was the woman who traded her position as head chef to follow her true calling, shamanism, and is now making a better living; the 50-year-old cow poke with a masters in philosophy and an addiction to large ladies with names like Madge; the former Belushi cohort who left Second City to teach English in Colorado and routinely burst into tears of joy; and the woman who gave up her six-figure, corporate life to gaze endlessly at the Rockies from behind the wheel of the ski area bus.

Forget the beautiful people. Give me Arkadians drunk on beet juice and high on mountain air. For me, this is the real fabric of the Four Corners. These are the neighbors who have added the most texture to my life in Colorado. Now that the summer season is winding down, the 60-hour work weeks are vanishing and the game of chase the dollar sign is slowing, I'm ready to get reacquainted.

Will Sands




News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index